By Geoff Percival
Monday, August 22, 2011
THE Government needs to implement a specific strategy for information and communications technology (ICT) for small business or risk SMEs missing out on the benefits of its smart economy drive.
That is according to small firms lobby group ISME, which has conducted an ICT survey of its members that shows that only one-third of SMEs are actively using the internet to sell products and services.
"There is a real danger that the smart economy is passing us by and SMEs in Ireland are missing out as consumers — both domestic and foreign — purchase online from outside the state. The increase in the number of 50ft containers arriving into the country, full of online purchases, is evidence not to be ignored," said ISME chief executive Mark Fielding.
While as many as 97% of SMEs are regularly using the internet for business purposes, including banking, sourcing of suppliers, research and communication, and most have their own website, there has been little upward movement in the number who actively sell products online in the past year.
ISME claims this is due to high costs and poor-quality broadband — with many companies afraid of losing customer trust due to poor online experiences.
Mr Fielding said: "It is imperative that, as part of the Government’s smart economy agenda, the use of ICT in SMEs is exploited to its fullest and companies are in a position to avail of the most up-to-date technology at the most convenient cost."
Nearly half of those surveyed by ISME said the internet has reduced their business costs, while 30% said that having a corporate social networking presence has helped them increase sales.
This appeared in the printed version of the Irish Examiner Monday, August 22, 2011